You know how you remember where you were when you heard some big news? I was at Pizza Time in my hometown on break from high school when I heard about the Challenger explosion. I was shaken awake by my boyfriend and dragged half-conscious to the TV on 9/11.
And when Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s surprise running mate choice, I was dreaming. I was asleep, incorporating my radio alarm set to NPR into my dream. While looking for a bathroom (I had to pee) in my imaginary snowy dreamscape, I heard that Sarah Palin was McCain’s pick.
My first thought was “Obama just won the election!”
My second thought was “I have to wake up, this is a weird dream. I don’t know anything about this lady.”
And here I am, two weeks later, wide awake, and I still don’t know that much about Sarah Palin. And she’s not making it any easier.
And while that might be bemusing in other circumstances, it’s starting to really piss me off.
Think about this: from April 2007, onwards, the Democratic contenders for president met in 26 debates winnowing the field of eight candidates down to the final two, Clinton and Obama.
The Republican contenders met in 21 debates, examining the platforms and opinions of twelve possibilities.
From those FORTY-SEVEN debates, countless interviews, in-depth TV and print reporting, and more, we learned a lot about the twenty people running for president.
And as for Veep… well, once he was named, Joe Biden went on the Sunday talk shows, sat for interviews, you name it. That was after having been one of the eight original Dem candidates whose record got dissected under the harsh light of scrutiny.
But not Governor Palin. She entered into American awareness ten days ago largely unknown outside of Alaska. And after her scathing-but-not-informative acceptance speech, we’re told she won’t be meeting the press much. How infuriating!
What’s the Truth?
Once selected, rumors started popping up like daisies. Had she really fired the Public Safety Commissioner because he wouldn’t fire her brother-in-law? (True) Did she cover up her daughter’s pregnancy? (False) Did she support the “bridge to nowhere” before she was against it? (True)
With every passing day, more and more questions are cropping up. Some of them are banal, and should be beyond the scope of our politics. But some of them, no matter how much the McCain-Palin team screams, really do have bearing on her candidacy and our democracy. She was selected ten days ago, and yet she has yet to sit down with the media to talk about her policies and positions. And there is a world of information we need to know about her:
- Does she know what the VP does yet?
- Does she really think Creationism should be taught in schools?
- Does she really think people can pray away homosexuality?
- With her underage daughter pregnant, does she still believe in abstinence-only education?
- Why did she ask for so many earmarks for her hometown?
- Where does she stand on the Iraq War?
- Where does she stand on the Economy?
- What does she think about the Freddie Mac and Fannie May takeover?
- I could go on. There are literally dozens of more key issues we need to know about…
If any Democrat were to try to skate into office without answering these questions, the right wing and the media would scream bloody murder. Shouldn’t that standard go both ways?
One Is Not Twenty
When the campaign announced yesterday that an interview was offered to ABC's Charlie Gibson, they began to act like they were doing the world a favor and that this was plenty of face time with the new candidate. But it’s not. Media outlets have biases, and one interview with an anchor who skews conservative isn’t enough to get a sense of who she is and what she believes.
One interview is not the twenty or even hundreds of interviews all of the other candidates on both tickets have been subject to. She is still the least known quantity in this election, and her position as the running mate of John McCain, a 72 year old with multiple occurrences of malignant melanoma, puts her in a position where we must know what she stands for. If elected, she literally could become President on or very near day one.
Stand Up, Sarah
John McCain implored people to “stand up for America” in his acceptance speech. Well, come on, Governor Palin. Stand up in front of the microphones and cameras and tell us what you want to do and where you want to take this country. We already know you’re an insult-lobbing firebrand, so surely the least you can do is answer some questions.
Being afraid of the camera, or hiding behind false charges of sexism isn’t going to work this time. There are 57 days left, and this is for all the marbles.
American voters and this great democracy deserve no less than your full candor, Governor.